The risk assessment for GMOs obtained from New Genomic Techniques has been abolished. However, traceability and labeling remain in place thanks to two amendments by the Greens and S&D. All could still turn around if member states issue an opinion in the EU Council before the next elections.
7 FEBRUARY 2024 – The 42 organizations that are part of the GMO-Free Italy Coalition express their deep disappointment with the European Parliament‘s vote on the proposed regulation of new GMOs approved today.
The removal of the risk assessment for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) obtained through New Genomic Techniques (NGT) is extremely alarming and goes against the founding elements of the European pact. Thankfully, traceability and labeling requirements were retained thanks to amendments tabled by the Social Democrats and the Greens.
“Despite the ongoing protests, MEPs, who had already tossed aside all the measures of the European Green Deal, have given in on this front as well, undoing 20 years of the precautionary principle approach,” says the GMO-Free Italy Coalition. “Today’s vote does not address the problems with a regulation that weakens the legislation on genetically modified organisms, although thanks to the understanding of a part of the Parliament, some limits have been placed on the damage that the initial proposal could have caused.”
The vote had to take into account a growing body of scientific literature on the potentially negative effects of the numerous off-target mutations caused by NGTs, the impact of cross contamination on organic and non-GMO agriculture. They were also forced to consider the opposition of the majority of Italian and European citizens to GM food.
However, consumers’ and farmers’ rights end up being severely undermined, as the risk assessment for new GMOs has been rejected. The ‘polluter pays’ principle also comes up short: companies and farmers who use GMOs will not be liable for damages caused by the sale or cultivation of genetically modified varieties.
At least the other two pillars of the current legislation have held up: traceability and labeling of genetically modified products. Also, an amendment introducing limits to patentability for NTGs proves to be entirely testimonial because these can only be achieved by amending the Biotechnology Directive and the European Patent Convention. A process that could take years. If these provisions become law, Europe will experience a further concentration of the seed market through a wave of patents already claimed by the largest corporations.
According to the GMO-Free Italy Coalition, the only acceptable solution is for the new GMOs to remain fully within the scope of Directive 2001/18 on genetically modified organisms. Yet the game is still open. This is because for the new regulation on NTGs to ultimately enter into force, an opinion is needed from the EU Council, i.e. the agriculture ministers of the member states, (which could be more devastating than what has come out of Parliament today). Subsequently, the three-way negotiation between Parliament, Council and Commission would begin. At the Council, the opinion must pass by a qualified majority, i.e. at least 55% of the 27 countries representing at least 65% of European citizens. In an attempt made in November 2023, this majority was not reached and the opinion was postponed.
The GMO-Free Italy Coalition therefore calls on all the Agriculture Ministers of Europe not to approve the regulation and to keep NGTs regulated according to the existing legislation, which protects producers, consumers and the environment.
The GMO-Free Italy Coalition
Agorà degli Abitanti della Terra, AIAB, AltragricolturaBio, ARCI, ASCI, Assobio, Associazione Consumatori Utenti, Associazione per l’agricoltura biodinamica, Associazione rurale italiana, Attac Italia, Centro internazionale Crocevia, Civiltà Contadina, Coltivare Condividendo, Consorzio della Quarantina, Coordinamento ZeroOgm, CUB, Deafal, Demeter, Equivita, Egalité, European Consumers Aps, Fairwatch, Federazione Nazionale Pro Natura, Federbio, FIRAB, Fondazione Seminare il Futuro, Greenpeace, ISDE, Legambiente, Lipu, Navdanya International, RIES – Rete Italiana Economia Solidale, Reorient, Ress, Seed Vicious, Slow food Italia, Terra!, Terra Nuova, Transform! Italia, USB, Verdi Ambiente e Società, WWF
Campaign – GMOs must not be deregulated